Courtesy this job, I have been to Grenada quite a few times in the last few years. It’s generally just to Grand Anse, and usually not enough to time to do more than the hotel (cue sigh about the supposed glamour of a job-with-travel). Due to the number of visits, however, I do have a few ideas. Grenada is probably my next favourite island after T&T. Or it alternates with Dominica (who would not love a country that is tiny yet still 2/3 uninhabitable because of gorgeous rain forested mountain?). And occasionally sentimentality about the 2.5 years (over a 12 year period) lived in Barbados.
But no. Back to the point. I decided the last time that Grenada was my favourite other Caribbean island. Decisions are helpful to know how you feel. Try it. It’s life-changing.
Grenada is a small island with rainforest and natural features like waterfalls and volcanic crater lakes, the expected gorgeous Caribbean beach and coastal views, narrow winding and steep little roads right in town and through the rainforest, and gorgeous colour everywhere. It is the Spice Isle, being the source of great things like the nutmeg pictured above, which I picked up from nder a tree just growing on the side of a road…incredible. Because of this, it is also the source of the incredibly delicious treat called nutmeg ice cream. Which, when done well, is like the richest, creamiest eggnog-y ice cream. Oh so good. On my first trip to Grenada, my aunt packed me up with 2 large containers of this island specialty to take to Trinidad (just before the days of liquid restrictions on hand luggage), which I dutifully dropped off with her sister (my mother) and continued my travels. Upon my return a mere week later, there was NONE left. Nary a drop. It was that good.
While Grenada may seem like a typical Caribbean island there are a few features that are worth noting. One of the iconic views of Grenada is of the Carenage. The Carenage is the inner harbour in downtown St. George’s surrounded by hills and colourful houses and buildings picturesquely crammed onto those hills. It reminds me somewhat of the harbour towns in the Highlands and the Hebridean Islands. Obviously much warmer The Carenage is a bustling transportation and shopping hub, with markets and duty free shopping, and is always busy. And yes, the blues are that blue. I did no colour-tweaking at all on the most recent photos (new Sigma 50mm f2.8 lens has been great!).
Then there’s Grand Anse – there on the right. Home of many hotels and shopping around this gorgeous bay, it’s where I usually stay. Convenient because of the malls, supermarket and restaurants (and dentists, which I needed the last time) with easy access to that lovely beach. The view on the right is from the Flamboyant Hotel, which is up the hill the bay, giving you spectacular views.
There is more than just the beach to Grenada, however. In the Grand Etang Rainforest Reserve you’ll see lush rainforest (naturally), waterfalls, crater lakes and more. Annandale Falls is a pretty waterfall in the midst of tropical foliage. There’s a little area you can swim in, and people do jump although that may not be advisable… The Falls are in the Grand Etang Rainforest but very accessible from the road – a short walk past vendors and over a sulphur-laden stream. There is another waterfall people visit, but I have not yet been.
Of course, you don’t have to leave your hotel to experience wildlife. In Grand Anse in particular, they come to you…crabs. Big and small. Red crabs dot the roadways, coming out of every little hole in the dirt by the drains and ditches. Better yet, big ones suddenly appear in the night in the hotel as you walk to your room!
If you’re not partial to crabs in their live form, then head up to the Gouyave Fish Friday Festival (pronounced Gwah-v). Every Friday, the people in this little coastal town come out in the narrow streets and set up tents, stoves, grills etc and serve up seafood and local delicacies every where you look. It’s a bit of a drive from Grand Anse (taxi can cost about EC$200-220 round-trip) but it’s worth it if you go hungry and ready to try out everything. You can have all kinds of seafood obviously – fried, steamed or grilled fish, served with breadfruit, or fried bakes or chips. Crab backs. Coconut fried shrimp. Fish cakes. Nutmeg Ice Cream. Fresh Juices. Lots of different vendors to try different hands. The photo on the right is snapper wrapped in foil with onions and peppers and seasoning and cooked on a grill. Served with fried bakes. You may not always find a place to sit, but stick around people will have to get up and move eventually.
More formal dining is available of course. You can visit my Eating Out: Grenada set on Flickr for views of food at The Beach House, Coconut Beach, Flamboyant and Le Chatueau. I highly recommend the Beach House – it’s an open building right on the beach and their food is excellent.
One of the popular tourist sites in Grenada is the agro-tourism of the Belmont Estate, which is a 17th century plantation where you can see their cocoa processing, organic farm, lovely gardens and dine at their restaurant. I can’t speak to the restaurant, since when I visited it was Ramadan and while my colleagues enjoyed lunch, I sat in the gardens and tried out my new lens on the lovely flowers and greenery. But I did see the cocoa laid out to dry, and a fruit stand with the estate’s produce.
Leapers’ Hill or Le Morne De Sauteurs is located in the northern part of the island where the Atlantic Ocean meets the Caribbean, and was named so by the French settlers after the indigenous Carib Amerindians, were defeated by the French for possesion of the island. Rather than facing submission to the French, the last few remaining Caribs jumped off the high cliff that is now called Leapers’ Hill. There’s a monument on the hill on the cemetary, from where you can get some nice views of Kick-em Jenny (a still active volcano off the coast of Grenada). The Information Centre is closed on Sundays, so take note.
Lots of things are closed on Sundays actually… like the Grenada Chocolate Company. Home to that lovely Organic Dark Chocolate in the pretty packaging. Sigh. If you’re headed to Grenada, make sure to schedule a visit on one of the other 6 days of the week.
There are many more photos in my Grenada set on Flickr.
I hope you enjoyed this little visit to Grenada, one of T&T’s closest neighbours. I realise I have been failing on the travel elements of this blog, so why not catch up so that I start 2010 on a good note!
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